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Posts Tagged ‘Saving’

College Cents

Picking up pennies makes me happy. I never pay attention to the heads up is good luck/tails is bad luck — my reasoning is, hey, I found a penny! Which roughly translated to free money, so I’m not complainin’.

I think it’s easier to go after ways to earn and save money than make everyday life adjustments. Picking up pennies is one instance; playing “the game” with drug store rewards at Walgreens or CVS is another.

Here’s my list of biggest things I should be doing on a daily basis to save, and what stuff costs me the most.

Ways to saving —

  • Use free printing. One perk of my over-priced student housing is a free laser printer in the computer lab. You are supposed to donate paper to replenish what is used, but toner is free. I should hardly ever use my personal printer (except to print coupons, since I can’t download the app for that on the public comps).
  • Use free school services. Two prime examples are the computer help desk and the health center. There is free PC repair gurus and packages of band-aids just waiting to be used!
  • Win free stuff. I’ve come to the conclusion that relatively few people 1. read the daily paper or 2. enter the contests found within the pages of the daily paper. I’ve won two sets of tickets and an xbox game so far, and just entered this week’s  contest for tickets to Cirque du Soleil. Whee!
  • Go to the rec center. It’s included in some fee or another, so I should aim to go frequently enough to make my “membership” worthwhile. Theoretically, this should lead me to a healthier lifestyle with fewer medical needs, too.

Insanely expensive things —

  • Laundry. $3 a load makes me angry, but clean clothes are pretty darn close to a necessity.
  • Pre-prepared food. Sometimes it just feels like a microwaveable dinner is all I have time for, but this definitely isn’t the case.
  • Housing. Highway robbery, I tell ya. Then again, there are enough actual robberies that ponying up the money to get a safe place seems like a really good idea.

What are your biggest finds and losses?

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Money Crunch

I decided to buy as many books as possible from fellow students this year.

  1. I like supporting student sales, largely because I sell my own books this way. There are 40,000ish students, so there’s quite a market.
  2. It’s cost conscious. I get a better deal than through the bookstore — and so do they.
  3. Earth friendly — reuse, reuse, reuse, plus no major transportation required.

Major con: kids don’t take Visa. I did not plan ahead for this when coming back — I have exactly $46 in cash and $4 in dimes/nickles/quarters on me right now.  I’ve been going through all of my purses, book bags, piggy banks, anything to try to get two denominations of $35. (I also left my debit card at home due to a string of armed assaults on campus.)

It’s a really funny feeling not having access to the money, an emergency back up plan, or the easy credit of a credit card in this case. Well, hopefully Walgreens does cash back from my credit card tomorrow!

Edit: They don’t.

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Believing in Change

Do you believe in change?

No, no, I’m not talking about politics — I’m talking about picking up coins. Cold, hard cash. Perfectly valid, yet easily forgettable and often left behind.

Picking up coins abandoned on the ground is quick and easy, with an immediate payout. I’m always amazed by how many coins I find on the ground. Like real estate, location matters. Normally, I find about 20 cents during a trip to Walgreens; I remember the high school lunch room having a small fortune on its floor, too. But does it pay off?

Let’s assume it take 5 seconds to pick up a penny, which is a generous amount of time. That means that I can pick up 720 pennies over the course of an hour of time, which equals $7.20 per hour in post-tax dollars, meaning that the entire $7.20 goes to your bank account without giving any to Uncle Sam (legally, of course.)

That’s not bad, especially when you consider the increased earnings when picking up a nickle (5x more), dime (10x more), or quarter (25x more). [While I do make more per hour when working, I haven’t found a way to earn more income while walking home from Walgreens!]

Further experimental evidence comes from my family. We kept a jar on the counter to which the entire family contributed the money they had found at work, during school, or while running errands — everyday activities that were going to be done anyway . When the jar was full (and really heavy!), it was taken to the local bank to be counted. Over the course of about five years, my mom, dad, sister and I managed to collect over $70 in found money! [To put that in perspective, I just bought a wool coat for $73 dollars (64% discount!)]

All in all, I always try to pick up pennies. Importantly excluding, of course, situations where coin is incredibly dirty, or would create an awkward situations. One dime may be easy to overlook, but when accumulating those spare coins become $70 — sweet!

If you’d like to digitally pick up some pennies, learn more about one of my favorite programs, YouData!

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What’s the best way to save money?

Don’t spend.

If anything, personal finance has made me more aware of what and why I buy. It really strikes me how much little purchases add up, both on my credit card and in my closet.

In my opinion, the distinction between something being a good deal versus being cheap is key. For a good deal, the item is useful, either for a need or bringing happiness worth the price, which called “utility” in the world of economics.

Why is not spending one of  the best form of savings? In the words of the great Benjamin Franklin’s Poor Richard’s Almanac, “A penny saved is a penny earned.” Importantly, each dollar spent is post-tax money.

How do taxes tie in here? For each dollar earned through work, taxes eat anywhere from roughly 15 to 40%. If you avoid wasting $10 through careless spending, you get to keep 100% of the $10; if you work for an hour at $10/hour, you will profit approximately $7.50 (give or take, based on many variables such as overall income and location) Ouch!

Additionally, if a purchase is made on a credit card, interest rates are killer if you carry a balance. A buyer can end up paying over $20 for a $10 item if they carry debt, which is very stressful, in addition to expensive!

I must admit, shopping is one of my favorite forms of recreation, and I do just like having stuff.  I have been trying to tailor my purchases — some things, like more collared shirts for work, are useful since looking professional is important.

It feels surprisingly good to not-spend, however. Multi-utensil camping tool for this city girl? Pretty cool, but I think I’ll pass. :)

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